Soldier musicians will perform in Tonawanda on June 30 and July 4, and appear in Seneca Falls, West Falls, Lewiston
The New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division Band will be touring Western New York from June 30 to July 4.
The band's six performances are free.
The 42nd Infantry Division Band will play two concerts on June 30 and a concert each day from July 1-4.
The band's schedule is:
√ June 30, 2 p.m. at Kenmore East High School in Tonawanda. The band will perform with students from the Kenmore East High School band.
√ June 30, 7 p.m. at the Town of Tonawanda Aquatic and Fitness Center.
√ July 1, 4:30 p.m. at the seventh annual Seneca Falls Canal Fest in Seneca Falls.
√ July 2, 2 p.m. at the West Falls Center for the Arts in West Falls.
√ July 3, 7 p.m. at Academy Park in Lewiston.
√ July 4, 2 p.m. at Niawanda Park in Tonawanda.
Bands have a long history in the military.
Bands played music to help soldiers march in step when heading into battle, and to keep their morale up. When the battle started, musicians turned into stretcher bears, bringing the wounded to medical stations.
Today, Army bands serve as musical ambassadors to the public.
The 42nd Infantry Division Band traces its history back to World War I when the division formed from National Guard units of 26 states. That was when it earned it's "Rainbow" nickname, because the division reached across the United States like a rainbow, according to its chief of staff, Douglas MacArthur.
During World War II, the band followed the combat troops of the division as they captured the German cities of Wurzburg and Schweinfurt and liberated the Dachau concentration camp.
In 2004 and 2005 when the division headquarters deployed to Iraq, the band played in dining facilities across north central Iraq to raise morale and performed at events with Iraqi officials.
And when they weren't playing, band members checked passes at the division main headquarters as a security element.
The band's soldiers are all accomplished musicians. Many are music educators or play in their own bands.
The Western New York concerts are part of the band's regular annual training program. The soldiers are spending this week rehearsing at Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill, where they are headquartered.
While 26 band soldiers perform in Western New York, nine soldiers are heading to Israel where they will perform at a July 4 reception being held by the U.S. embassy there.
The band is commanded and directed by Warrant Officer 2 Ethan Wagner.